“If a girl wants a kiss, she won’t ask for a Latte.” That’s what my uncle Raul used to say. May he rest in peace. This principle applies to everything in life, included screenplay marketing. You want a producer to read? Give them what they want.
-by Rodolfo Key & Karel Segers
Before endeavouring in the laudable task of writing the best script ever that will touch people’s hearts, that will get cynics to think there is good in the world, that will make ruthless dictators mend their ways and bring happiness to the oppressed spirits of modern society, perhaps you want to find out what type of stories production companies want to produce, do they want a kiss or a latte?
At some point you will be marketing your script and send it to producers. You can do this the dumb way and send an email and/or snail mail letter to every single production company of which you can lay your hands on the email address. Or you could work in a smarter, more targeted way. For this, you need to find out which producers are looking for which type of scripts.
In Australia, many writers start by contacting Screen Australia for a list of production companies. We did this work for you and collected the contact details of 35 companies, then contacted them to find out what it is they are looking for.
The sobering outcome is below. Of the 35 production companies we contacted – emailed and reminded, phoned and re-phoned – we received a reply from thirteen (13). Two didn’t want to participate and wouldn’t even answer these simple, straightforward questions.
So this leaves us with eleven (11).
What did we ask? First we wanted to find out whether these companies accept unsolicited material, because if they don’t you can save yourself the effort of contacting them. For those who do, we wanted to know what type of document they want to see first: a log line, synopsis, step outline, treatment or the whole script?
Here is the outcome (click to enlarge):
(accurate as at December 2011)
This seems like a measly result, having started with 35 companies. To their defence, production companies are not fulfilling a public service and it is fair that they have other priorities than responding to queries.
On the other hand it would have benefited both the companies and the writers if there existed some clarity as to whether and what they want to achieve in terms of query submissions.
What is your experience? Can you add any info that may be relevant to fellow Australian screenwriters?
photo credit: aaronkaiser
Karel Segers wrote his first produced screenplay at age 17. Today he is a story analyst with experience in acquisition, development and production. He has trained students worldwide, and worked with half a dozen Academy Award nominees. Karel speaks more European languages than you have fingers on your left hand, which he is still trying to find a use for in his hometown of Sydney, Australia. The languages, not the fingers.